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Third meeting of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention group

The third meeting of the Executive Working Group on Mental Wellbeing, Resilience and Suicide Prevention has taken place by video conference today.

Ministers provided updates on their Department’s progress on the Protect Life 2 action plan and the Covid-19 mental health response.

Speaking following the meeting, Health Minister Robin Swann said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has had far reaching impacts on all aspects of our lives and the full impact on our emotional wellbeing and mental health may not be truly felt for many months, possibly years, to come. However, we can take steps now to improve our emotional wellbeing, seek treatment where it is needed and promote recovery.”

With World Mental Health Day taking place on 10th October, Ministers highlighted resources available to support mental health.

First Minister Arlene Foster said: “This year’s theme is mental health for all. This is especially important at this time as we know the impact that Covid has on mental health.

“It is vital that we all look after our own emotional health and wellbeing to build resilience over the coming months and there are a lot of practical things we can do. I would encourage people to make use of the ‘Take 5 Steps to wellbeing’ which can be found on along with its library of free health care apps.”

Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said: “Looking after our mental health is so important and we need to make sure that everyone can access the help and support they need, when they need it.

“This year has been tough on everyone and many people are experiencing anxiety and other mental health issues. We want to tell people very clearly – you are not alone; help is available. Reach out to someone you can talk to, whether that’s a family member or friend, or your doctor. Talking about how you’re feeling is the first step to brighter days ahead.”

The Ministers indicated their support for the work of the Interim Mental Health Champion, Professor Siobhan O’Neill, in particular her work with people who have experience of poor mental health and her input into the design of the new mental health strategy.

Professor O’Neill said:  “We can all be mental health champions, and at this difficult time when we are asked to remain physically distant, we should continue to connect with each other and help anyone who is struggling to get support. It is important that we continue to look after our own mental health by staying active and connected. We have come through so much in Northern Ireland and we can get through these difficult times too.”

If you are concerned about your mental wellbeing, speak to your GP. If you are in distress or despair, the Lifeline helpline is available 24/7 on 0808 808 8000. The Minding Your Head website has a range of resources to support mental health and enables access to free online stress control classes to help people cope with and recover from difficult situations.

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